Created in 1989 by the ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, the Mary C. Lawton Award for Outstanding Government Service honors the memory of Mary Lawton, a distinguished career government lawyer who served on the Council of the Administrative Law Section from 1983-1986, and as Chair of the Section’s Judicial Review Committee from 1986 to 1988. A graduate of Georgetown Law School where she was first in her class and on the Board of Editors of the Law Journal, Mary began her career in the Office of the Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice.
At DOJ, she rose through the ranks to become a Deputy Assistant Attorney General. She received numerous awards from the Department of Justice. After a brief stint as General Counsel of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and service as Administrative Law Officer at the White House, Mary returned to the Justice Department as Counsel for Intelligence Policy.
The Mary C. Lawton award is for outstanding contributions to the development, implementation or improvement of administrative and regulatory practice that reflects excellence in performance. It is one of the few honors for government attorneys that recognize them for their “body of work.” Due to COVID we did not give out the Award at the annual 2020 conference. We will award the 2021 winner at the annual conference in the fall. So please think of state and local public servants as well as federal nominees.
I am pleased to introduce the 2020 Mary C. Lawton Public Service Award winner: Judge Melissa McIntosh. Judge McIntosh began her public service career as a labor lawyer in 1999 at the Federal Labor Relations Board. She served there until 2004 when she left to join the Defense Department. From 2009 to 2016 she served as labor, employment and ethics counsel.
Since 2016, she has been an Administrative Law Judge at the Social Security Administration. She also serves as the Administrative Judiciary Liaison to the Administrative Conference of the United States.
In 2018, she was elected the President of the Association of Administrative Law Judges. There are over 1200 nonmanagerial ALJs in the Social Security Administration. For many citizens they may be the only judges they have dealings with during their lifetime. Because of the value we place on the role of ALJs and their provision of fair and impartial justice to the citizenry, we are pleased to present the 2020 Mary C. Lawton Public Service Award to Judge Melissa McIntosh.
Elaine Reiss chairs the ABA Administrative Law Section’s Lawton Award Selection Committee and is a longtime public servant in New York. This post is based on her remarks given at the 2021 ABA Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice Institute and is part of the ABA Administrative Law Section Series Celebrating Public Service; all the posts in the series are collected here.